Tony Pike will have an imposing line-up at Eagle Farm this weekend with several of his Kiwi raiders stepping out for the first time in the Sunshine State.
The Cambridge trainer will have a two-pronged attack in the Gr.2 Spirit Of Boom Classic (1200m) with promising juveniles Dimaggio Joe (NZ) (Almanzor) and Slipper Island (No Nay Never).
Dimaggio Joe won on debut at Hastings last month and will be out to maintain his perfect track record on Saturday, while Slipper Island finished runner-up on debut before winning at Trentham in March.
“Dimaggio Joe is still a work in progress, but I was really happy with the way he worked on Tuesday morning on the course proper at Eagle Farm,” Pike told Brisbane Racing Club.
“All three of the two-year-olds that we have here have all got plenty of ability and plenty of upside, it will just be interesting to see which one puts their foot forward.
“Based on his work this morning we will probably run him on Saturday.
“It is a big jump up in class but I think he is a very promising horse. It gives him a chance, if he does put his hand up, to get to the Sires’ (Gr.2, 1400m) and JJ Atkins (Gr.1, 1600m).
“He has got a lovely, big, long action and being by Almanzor I think once he does get up in trip it is really going to suit.
“Saturday might be a touch sharp for him but if he can get near the placings on Saturday he will only improve when he gets up to the seven and eight furlongs.”
Pike was also buoyant about the future of Slipper Island.
“He is a really nice horse as well. He is a very laidback colt and it is hard to get a line on him in his track work,” he said.
“Mark Du Plessis rode him in track work for me this morning and he was quite impressed. He said he got a little bit lost on the outside there at Eagle Farm but was very strong late and through the line.
“He is another one that will suit when he gets up in trip. He has definitely shown us enough at home to be competitive on Saturday.”
Pike will also have double representation in the Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate (2143m) with Ruach (NZ) (Charm Spirit) and Tutukaka (NZ) (Tavistock), who won the Listed Tattersall’s Life Member Stakes (1830m) at the Queensland carnival last year.
“Tutukaka had only had the one start before he came over here last year,” Pike said.
“He was going to go to the paddock and come back at three in New Zealand but we did spot that race and it was going to be perfect for him. It was a great result.
“He went to Melbourne in the spring and was still a bit immature. He won the Geelong Classic (Listed, 2200m) and he ran a solid sixth in the VRC Derby (Gr.1, 2500m). He was just getting towards the end of his prep at that stage.
“He will improve off Saturday’s run, he has only had the one run back after a short break.
“By the time the Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) comes, I think that he is going to be more than competitive.”
Ruach will race for the first time under Pike’s care on Saturday.
“I brought him over for a good friend of mine, Ben Foote (previous trainer). He has been well-performed and in some of the mile-2000m races back in New Zealand,” Pike said.
“Saturday will probably be his biggest test, but his form in New Zealand suggested that if he has travelled well he can be competitive in a race like that.”
Pike is also looking after Group One performer Babylon Berlin (All Too Hard) for Foote, and she too will have her first run under Pike’s name in the Listed Bright Shadow (1200m) on Saturday.
“She is one of our top four or five sprinters and surprising enough the Aussies always bag the New Zealand sprint form but it has been pretty solid this year and we have had some quality sprinters back home,” Pike said.
“She is a very fast mare and has raced against some of those better horses and is definitely not far off them.
“Back to fillies and mares grade on Saturday, I think she will be very hard to beat.
“We might try and stretch her out to a Tatt’s Tiara later on if she is really flying, but the 1400m might be a bit of a query.
“She handles any sort of ground as well, which is going to be an advantage.”
She will be joined by another temporary Pike runner in Letzbeglam (Snitzel).
“She has come over from Cambridge Stud, I brought her over for (trainer) Lance Noble,” Pike said.
“She won fresh-up after a long break at Pukekohe last start and probably needed the run.
“Lance was really happy with the way she has travelled over and she has definitely tightened up since she has been here.
“Whether she can get back to her best two-year-old form is an unknown, but she will run in the Bright Shadow on Saturday and she will be better once she gets to six and seven furlongs.”